Veggie Couscous Salad

coucous 2

Veggie Couscous Salad


  • 8oz package of pearl couscous
  • 8 – 10 asparagus spears, cut into thirds
  • 1 bell pepper, large diced
  • 4 – 5 radishes, sliced thin
  • 3 – 4 baby bella, or crimini, mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups organic kale, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 2-3 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook couscous according to package directions, then refrigerate while finishing other steps.
  2. Cut asparagus and flash steam in a skillet for just a few minutes, then chill with couscous.
  3. Chop all other vegetables and combine in a large bowl. Add the chilled couscous and asparagus.
  4. Season with all seasonings and finish off with lemon juice

It really is as simple as that! I intended to roast some sweet potatoes to put in it too but I forgot, despite them sitting out next to me on the prep table! Instead I diced and roasted some regular potatoes to put alongside the salad in the meal prep containers. I’ve uncovered some very compelling evidence that we are “starchivores” at our core, and starchy vegetables definitely seem to keep me full longer, so I’m all for adding some potatoes to my lunch.

I hope you enjoy!


Mediterranean Monday – Corn and Avocado Salad with Chickpeas

Dear Friends,

For this week’s Mediterranean Monday, I’m bringing you a new lunch dish inspired by tomorrow’s dinner date! I’m going with my friend Erica to try out a new plant-based restaurant called Trio. I am not vegan, but I do make fresh veggies the center of my diet and am happy to do meatless and dairy-free meals. Last week I didn’t do the greatest — Michael was out of town and my boys were gone, so it was just me at home. I took full advantage of the opportunity to not cook for a few days!

That meant pizza on Sunday and cheese enchiladas topped with grilled chicken plus a ton of chips and salsa on Wednesday. And in between? Well, I am a French fry addict! They are my absolute favorite food, and I decided to “treat” myself by buying a bag of seasoned fries that I can toss in a skillet frozen and have fried and ready to eat in a matter of minutes. I basically lived on those things for lunch and dinner the other two nights, with either leftover veggie frittata or a salad on the side. I also made lemon lavender shortbread cookies for work, and my usual serving of oatmeal for breakfast.

In short – by the weekend I was completely carbed out, and in desperate need of more fiber and less cheese and fat!! So for this week’s meal plan I made sure to include a meatless option for lunches, plus some good veggie options to go with the dinners. It’s me, Michael, and his teenage daughter Mia this week, so I still had to come up with things that a teenager would eat. I chose Chicken Parmesan Meatballs for dinner tonight — that I could serve over traditional (albeit whole wheat) spaghetti for her and her dad, but eat without pasta and with a large salad on the side for myself.

I’m planning a traditional summer feast for Wednesday, because Mia is picking fresh sweet corn with her uncle on Tuesday, and my grandma gave me some garden cucumbers and bell peppers too. So we’re going to do some turkey burgers with corn on the cob, cucumbers and sliced tomatoes from my garden.Tuesday and Thursday are leftover nights, and Friday is one that I’m excited for — Shrimp and Veggie Lo Mein. It’s basically like a stir fry with brown rice noodles, and that is one of my favorite things!

I also like to plan at least one thing for lunches each week in case there aren’t enough leftovers, and that leads me to the topic of today’s post! I made a Salmon Quinoa Salad a couple of weeks ago, and I thought it would be easy enough to swap out the salmon for some chickpeas, and switch out a couple other ingredients to create a new summer salad that centers on a major staple right now — corn on the cob! I know, I know…still a carb! But it’s in season right now so it’s sooo good! And it pairs really well with tomatoes and avocado!

I have tomatoes growing at home in my back yard, which are looking much better since I’ve been using the copper fungicide to control the anthracnose fruit rot. I have some much better-looking tomatoes! The rest of the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find in the store (that’s my beef with some vegan recipes — you have to go to specialty stores to find some of that stuff and we just don’t have that many options in a town of 40,000 people).

Now then…

Corn and Avocado Salad with Chickpeas



  • 4 cups of kale, leaves torn
  • 2 ears of corn on the cob, cooked (grilled will have the best flavor!)
  • 2 avocadoes, cubed
  • 1 large or 2 smaller tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 2 TBS finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of one lime


  1. First things first — sautee kale in a bit of olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper until lightly wilted and bright green (don’t overcook!). Put in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Next, run a sharp knife down the corn cob lengthwise to slice away the corn from the cob. Place the corn into the bowl with the kale, then refrigerate to cool before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  3. The rest is pretty simple — throw the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and toss together! The lime juice will top off the flavor, and also keep the avocado from browning so that it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

How is that for a simple and tasty recipe?! Lots of veggies, a little carbs without being over the top, and so good for your heart and your waistline without all the unhealthy fats and cholesterol that come with meat and cheese!

Which brings me to a new goal I’m setting for myself — limiting my dairy intake. I don’t drink milk, and never have since I was lactose intolerant growing up. My stomach can take it now, but milk is just gross to me after years of it making me sick. I’m not a big ice cream eater either — although I think I’ve eaten more of it since I’ve been with Michael than I have in the last five years combined because he gets it free from work! But when it comes to cheese…I just can’t seem to say no to the stuff. I used to be good about eating it in moderation, but now I’m eating it every single day.

I’ve completely run away with myself on the cheese front, and it’s time to get it back under control. It may not raise your body’s acidity like milk does since it’s fermented, but it has one of the highest fat percentages of any food coming in at about 70% fat on average. About the only thing worse is butter, which is 80% fat. That really isn’t a good thing for the arteries! There is also a pretty strong link between cheese consumption and an increase in cancer risk, especially prostate cancer in men. Granted I may not have a prostate…but that doesn’t make me feel any better about eating it every day!

With that said…recipes like this one are going to be more frequent for me this month, as well as for my kids. They’ve continued their tradition while away this summer of eating way too many chips and drinking way too much soda, packing on 10-20 pounds that they now need to loose. Lots of healthy eats and lots of time sweating it out at the skate park is in store for them!

If you have any recommendations for good plant-based dishes, please feel free to share them below. I am always looking for new things to try! Happy eating 🙂




Summer Tomato Salad

Did you miss posts from me last week?! It was my one week each year off of work, and I started it off by forgetting my Chromebook at my grandparents house 30 miles away from home. I use the Chromebook for my blogging and photo editing, so I took this as my sign that I needed to take a vacation from all work, not just my 9-5 (okay, or 7:30-4:30) work. No blog posts went up last week, but since it was my first blogging break of 2019, I forgive myself!

What did I do instead? Well I finally tackled the basement dungeon that I’ve been avoiding – it is now all cleaned up and organized, and even the laundry is caught up! I cleaned all of my windows inside and out and I steam cleaned the grout on my tile floors. I also got some sun on my porcelain skin, celebrated a friend’s birthday, took a one day trip with Michael, and did some fun cooking…from which Michael was most definitely the largest beneficiary. He loves to eat, and I love to cook, so you could say we’re a match made in culinary heaven! I’m pretty sure he would not argue on that last point.

For the grand finale, Mia (his daughter) and I planned a Father’s Day picnic at a park downtown, where I could also get some family pictures of him and his kids that he’s been wanting (a little collage of some of them is below). I put together a spread of antipasto kabobs, BLT and PBJ skewers (basically just BLT’s and PBJ’s cut into quarters and pierced with a toothpick), strawberry and dark chocolate turnovers (I might be sharing this recipe soon as well), some cheez-it’s for Gabriel, and the subject of today’s post – a tomato salad!

I got the idea from an episode of Barefoot Contessa that I watched a couple of months ago where she had a picnic with her husband and served various types of salads, including a tomato salad. Michael loves tomatoes, so I decided to come up with a tomato salad just for him. It turned out so good, I had to share this one on the blog with all of you! So here goes…

Summer Tomato Salad



  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes (I used an heirloom variety container from Aldi)
  • 1 TBS fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped oregano
  • 1-2 sliced of cooked bacon, crumbled (leave out for plant-based)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions, pickled in apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 TBS olive oil
  • 1-2 TBS white balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. First things first – the onions! To do these, I thinly sliced about 1/4 of a cup of red onions, then cut the rings into halves. I put them in a glass jar with a lid, poured in apple cider vinegar until the onions were just covered, put on the lid, then popped them into the fridge while I made the rest of the picnic foods. I would allow them to pickle for at least half an hour before using.
  2. On to the rest of the recipe! Start by frying the bacon, then setting aside. While this is cooling, slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and add to a bowl. Remove the onions from the vinegar and spread these into the bowl with the tomatoes. Add the basil, oregano, salt and pepper, then toss ingredients of the bowl together.
  3. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle on top, then drizzle on the olive oil and the white balsamic. We picked up a bottle of white balsamic from a little shop in downtown Columbia, Missouri called Boone Olive Oil Co., and it has an incredible flavor!
  4. My friends, that is it! Your tomato salad is ready to serve. How simple is that?! Incredible flavor with minimal effort. You could easily add a little crumbled goat cheese to this dish as well, and if I hadn’t had lots of cheese in the antipasto kabobs already, I probably would’ve.
  5. This recipe makes about 4 servings (or 2 if your name is Michael!), but can easily be doubled if you need it for a larger gathering.

Coming up later this week I will have a garden update. The weekend before my vacation week, we (and by we I mean mostly Michael, with Logan as an assistant, and a bit of help from myself and my mom) built the enclosure for my tomato bed to keep out the squirrels and it turned out so good! I can’t wait to share it with you, so stay tuned for that post hopefully on Thursday!

Bell Pepper Quinoa Salad

What a divinely beautiful weekend it turned out to be! Forecasters predicted Armageddon for Saturday, but it turned out to be a quick lunchtime thunderstorm, followed by sunshine and upper 60’s for the afternoon. I spent my late morning and lunch hour holed up in a local coffee shop, working on book writing and discussing film and books with a couple of the regulars. Then I took to the patio at a downtown microbrewery with friends for the afternoon.

The first hints of spring always arouse feelings of newness and anticipation, brought to the surface from the place deep inside where they hibernate during the gloom of winter. Dreams of budding trees, blooming flowers, and the summer garden give way to plans and action.

Yesterday I cleared the last of the limbs from the tree cut down last August, cleaned up the leaves lingering in my back yard, and set my new raised bed and filled it with soil. My bench cushions and pillows returned to their home and the hammock was given a good wash. Many are the days that will be spent in that hammock, and on that bench, reading and writing and drawing my time away. I wish I could bottle this feeling and store it up on a shelf, so I could take a sip any time I’m feeling blue.

Something about the warming air always sets me to craving fresh veggies. This weekend I came up with something new! I had bell peppers that were intended for stuffed peppers that I failed to get around to making. So instead, I turned them into a delicious side dish that will pair beautifully with any style of chicken or fish. You could even throw in a little ground turkey and swap out the quinoa for brown rice to make it into a simple one-dish meal. Sort of a stuffed pepper skillet–a much healthy version of hamburger helper!



  • 1 cup quinoa
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 3 medium-to-large bell peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 purple onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 of an 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions, then set aside
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add peppers and onion and sauté, stirring often. When onion begins to turn translucent, add garlic, salt and pepper and continue to sauté until peppers begin to soften.
  3. Add tomato sauce and quinoa, and stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper at this point if needed.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and enjoy!

Honestly–it doesn’t get any easier than that! Eating your veggies can be much more simple and fast than people realize. I did my quinoa in a microwavable steamer bowl, so it cooked in about five minutes while I had my peppers and onions sautéing. The whole thing, including chopping the vegetables, was ready to eat in about 15 minutes start to finish!

If you try it, please leave a comment to let me know what you think. Happy eating!

Oven Roasted Vegetables

It’s Thanksgiving week, and you can’t think of Thanksgiving without thinking about food! Perfectly browned turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, buttery rolls…and my grandmothers tangy vinegar cole slaw! I’m ready to spend a whole day cozy and warm in the kitchen with my family, sipping a glass of wine (or two!) and stuffing my belly full.

The perfect compliment to the beginning of the holiday season, is anything roasted until lightly-crisp in the oven. Mmmmm, good! This weekend I got a hankering for some brussels sprouts. I had a steamable bag of brussles in the fridge, about a quarter of a bag of baby carrots, and an unopened bunch of asparagus. Perfect for roasting!

For the first batch of roasted veggies, I paired the brussles sprouts and carrots together. I popped the Brussels sprouts in the microwave, in their steamable bag, for three minutes–just long enough to lightly steam them and soften them a bit. I then dumped them onto a cutting board and cut each brussels sprout in half lengthwise.

I set the oven to 400 degrees, then sprayed a cookie sheet with olive oil spray. I spread the brussels sprout halves evenly on the sheet, then distributed the rest of the bag of baby carrots among them. I sprayed the veggies with some more olive oil spray, then sprinkled with salt and pepper.

To roast: pop cookie sheet in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees, sprinkle some minced garlic on top of the veggies, and roast for an additional 10 minutes.


The roasted brussles and carrots turned out perfectly! They were just starting to brown on the edges, but were still a little soft in the middle from being lightly steamed before going into the oven. Some diced potatoes would have also gone wonderfully with this combination, or even some sweet potatoes or parsnips!

To roast the asparagus, I used the exact same method, except I didn’t steam the spears at all prior to roasting. Asparagus has a pretty good water content on its own, so it roasts well without needing to be steamed or softened beforehand.

I trimmed the hard ends from the asparagus, sprayed the same cookie sheet with olive oil spray, then spread the spears out on the sheet evenly. I sprayed them with some more olive oil spray, then sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Just like the brussels, I roasted the asparagus at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, turned the oven down to 350, sprinkled some minced garlic on top of the asparagus, then roasted for an additional 10 minutes.


Really…is there anything more beautiful than boldly colored, freshly cooked vegetables?! Just looking at them makes my mouth water! If you weren’t ready for Thanksgiving before…I bet you are now!

Gobble gobble, my friends…enjoy your friends, family, and lots of sweet and savory treats!